Webinar Q&A Recap: How Healthy is Your Health Score?

May 3, 2022

Kate McBee

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy

Speakers: David Sakamoto, Vice President of Customer Success at GitLab and Neal McCoy, Vice President of Professional Services at BigCommerce

Peter Armaly joined Marley Wagner to co-host this month’s Customer Success Unlocked webinar. GitLab’s David Sakamoto and BigCommerce’s Neal McCoy joined us to share their respective journeys toward developing accurate, predictive customer health scores and actionable tips for how you can do the same.

Q&A Recap

Q: How often do you evaluate if your health scores are getting better (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and what do you do when you observe a change downward? How does quantitative data identify blind spots?

Neal McCoy (NM): We look at our health scores in aggregate month over month, so we sit down every month, and we take a look at them, and we see if we can get healthier. Since we’ve implemented this system, almost two years ago, we are getting healthy. Our book of business is getting healthier over time. But to David’s earlier point, you never stop iterating because the market changes, things change, and you have to constantly make adjustments, but we try to not create an iteration nightmare for Customer Success Managers. Right, they’ve got to focus on the relationship and the success of the customer. And so, we try to keep it within the boundaries of our ten dimensions and we try to make nuanced changes. Now there may be something that comes up that just requires us to do something radically different and, if that comes, we’ll address it at that time.


Q: Many models utilize Red-Yellow-Green (RYG) segments, but have you heard of or seen models that segment beyond that? I.e., red could be at-risk for churn or at-risk for a degradation of their contract, or green could mean that the customer is content or that the customer is ripe for expansion. Or would you say that overcomplicates health score and those things should be tracked separately but alongside health?

Marley Wagner (MW): When we talk about health score, we often talk about red, yellow, green. But I think there can be a breakdown in what does red mean, what does yellow mean, what does green mean. So first of all, I’m curious if each of you have specific definitions, that you use internally like hey, this is actually what this color means. You know, does red mean a risk for churn or a downgrade or does red means something else in your business?

NM: I hate to disappoint you, but we don’t use red, yellow, green. So, we use five dimensions, we use excellent, very good, good, bad, churn risk and churning. We use those five dimensions as part of that points-based system, and so, to hit that excellent score, it’s a very high bar to meet. When you go and you look at our health scores, the way we have it laid out in our system today, it lives on a bell curve and, of course, you want everything to be good, over to excellent as much as possible. We have churn risk and then we have churning because I think you have to understand where to invest. When you’re bad you want to get back to good, or if you’re churn risk, then of course you’re going to give that more focus and attention. But, if you know that there’s nothing you can do, you shouldn’t be diverting those resources to that. So, we carry that, as well as a health score, we use those five dimensions.

David Sakamoto (DS): We love colors, we have [red, yellow, green], you know, I’m an exec, I like colors. But we use the red, yellow, green in some components, but we purposely decided to keep them at the component level, not aggregate it up, because I think we haven’t proven the weighting across the different components of things we defined for customer health yet. So, I’m not going to make a guess and figure out what that is at the top level, so we keep it a component level. It’s really there to kind of just help visually draw “oh this doesn’t look right, there may be an issue” or not. But really, it’s just a draw to me. I just look at it as something to draw attention to look in further. And so, as you’re looking through it, whether you’re a CSM or their manager or an exec, you can kind of scan through and it kind of helps you focus on where you should be looking and asking questions.


Watch the recording of this webinar to catch up on the full conversation!